New gene discovery provides clue to brain, eye and lymphatic development

Researchers have found a new gene that, when mutated, can lead to lymphoedema (swollen limbs) as part of a rare disorder that can also cause problems with eye and brain development. This is the fourth lymphoedema-related gene found by the same researchers in three years, and the first linked to the eyes and brain. They say it could lead to better diagnosis and treatment for lymphoedema, an area that has been poorly understood previously.

The new study has linked mutations in the gene KIF11 to Microcephaly-Lymphoedema-Chorioretinal Dyplasia (MLCRD), a very rare condition. Patients with this condition have a small head (microcephaly), lymphoedema (swollen limbs caused by problems with the lymphatic system) and eye problems called chorioretinopathy, which frequently result in night blindness. The lymphatic system is a crucial part of the body which is important for draining fluid and preventing swelling.

Benefits of aspirin more modest than previously believed

People without a history of cardiovascular disease (such as heart attack or stroke) are unlikely to benefit from a regular dose of aspirin, given the associated risk of internal bleeding. This is the finding of the largest study to date into the effects of aspirin in people without established cardiovascular conditions.

Aspirin reduces the risk of clots forming in blood vessels and thereby protects against heart disease and stroke. It is widely used to prevent a repeat heart attack or stroke among people who have already suffered from one of these conditions, known in the medical field as secondary prevention. Many medical experts have also prescribed regular aspirin as a primary prevention technique – a precaution among people without a previous history of heart attack or stroke, but who may be considered at increased risk of these conditions in the future due to the presence of risk factors for heart attacks or strokes.

State-of-the-art medical training facility opens at St George’s

A new £350,000 state-of-the-art training facility was officially opened at the St George’s campus on 15 December by Niall Dickson, chief executive and registrar of the General Medical Council.

The Advanced Patient Simulator Centre, a joint project between St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and St George’s, University of London, provides specialist training for healthcare professionals and students. It allows them to test their skills in practical scenarios based on real-life situations including surgical and medical emergencies. They work with computer-controlled patient manikins that realistically mimic a wide range of health problems. Trainers can remotely control the manikins, which include both adult and child models, to instantly change the scenarios and introduce new problems for the trainees to tackle.

Penicillin doses for children should be reviewed, say experts

A team of scientists and clinicians, led by researchers at King’s College London and St George’s, University of London, are calling for a review of penicillin dosing guidelines for children, that have remained unchanged for nearly 50 years.

The call comes as a study published in the British Medical Journal indicates some children may not be receiving effective doses, which could potentially lead to failed treatment and contribute to antibiotic resistance.

Shorter malaria treatment proven as effective in treating seriously ill children as standard course

A shorter anti-malaria treatment is as effective in treating seriously ill children as the standard regimen, according to new research. Researchers have shown that three doses over two days of the drug artesunate are as effective in killing the malaria parasite in the blood as five doses over three days.

The findings could ensure children with severe malaria are more likely to complete their treatment, potentially saving lives. Reducing the number of doses could also significantly reduce the cost of administering drugs.